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call it. the arab state is imploding. what you are seeing now is decentralization. it is everywhere. you are seeing the end of the state. of the non-, palestine, syria, iraq. i do not suggest abandoning syria. buffered jordan and lebanon and turkey. run an international tin cup. i was in baker. i saw what he saw and did. what he recommended was focused. means related to end us. 0-- ends. we are emerging from some of the longest wars in american history.
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victory never determined by when we could win, but when could we leave. extrication is not the metric that you want to evaluate the performance and behavior of the most consequential power on earth. barack obama is the great extricate her. his role is to get americans out of conflicts, not get them into new ones. cruel and unforgiving assessment. >> thank you, aaron. [applause]>> we will take it from your rebuttal. we will now have a three-minute rebuttal from liana. we will leave it to josh to do that rebuttal. >> i will say couple of things quickly. first, with all due respect to the presidency, it is not up to him or the president what history provides. history presents challenges, whether he wants to do the great
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indicator -- it is not up to him. history will operate the way it does. we will assess the various challenges on their own. secondly, i understand the problem of knowledge and ignorance and personal and political life and diplomatic life. we all operate with the various levels of knowledge. we will never have the kind of clarity that some people want us to have before we undertake historical action. we can argue about levels of clarity that would be necessary and what we would have to know and what we would not have to know. the idea that until we feel confident enough that we know everything, so that all the consequences will have been anticipated and the mess of history and the fog of war and all of that other stuff will evaporate he for our transparent days. it will never be the case. it certainly seems clear to me that what ever happens in the outcome of syria as things stand now, the next government
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of syria will not feel that it does the united states or the west anything. it will have absolutely no incentive to align itself with us and our interests and values. in the fog of my darkness, that seems clear to me. about nation building -- nobody is suggesting nationbuilding out of full cost. we do not go around creating nations. we are talking about a nation in which there was already a democratic revolt. not about creating democracies, but assisting indigenous democrats in legitimate rebellions against hideous dictators. nobody is suggesting that the united states go create a new syria or iran, but there are people in all these countries who deserve our help and who, in the long-term, would be in our strategic interest to help. this seems to me -- we learned
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this from eastern europe and the soviet union. nobody, except maniacs, ever suggest that a military attack against any communist country. we did not even have rollback. when communism fell, it became perfectly clear that our support under various presidents, carter through reagan, sustained the opposition, sustained the dissidents and the people who then became the rulers of the states. i know there are enormous differences. but the idea that we cannot affect the outcome in any way but a negative one, and that we will never be in possession of knowledge sufficient for us to act meaningfully to bring about an outcome that would be and our interests and conform with our values, these two assumptions seem false to me. >> josh? >> the notion that we are going to find the democrats in syria and put them into power is a false notion. we have tried.
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with the opposition. first, to find the syrian national council, which is a bunch of liberals, mostly, we would like them to be harvard educated, and glue them on top of what is becoming increasingly a very violent and islamist uprising. there are over 1000 militias fighting in syria. the syrian opposition today, which america helped put together, are a bunch of harvard educated liberal people that we would like to will syria in the future. because we hope that we can glue them on top of this islamic militia and quiet them down. we said exactly the same thing about iraq. what do we have? we have a shiite a picture ship. they were not secular. they were religious. the neocons got everything wrong on what would happen to iraq. it will get it wrong on what will happen in syria.
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mockers he is not happening in syria anytime soon. the only two social indicators that have any reliable connection to whether democratic experiments work, are median age and per capita income. those -- our median age is 30 and above, you stick to democracy 30% of the time. per capita income, about $10,000 per person. syria, the median age is 20 one years old. iraq it was 21. syria has a per capita gdp of about $1000. we are -- democracy is not going to be the outcome. we can see it by looking at the militias. the most able... are the islamic front. they're the ones that have taken all the military successes in the last few months.
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they do not want democracy. they are not going to fulfill -- be friends with america. you are not going to beat them by putting a bunch of harvard educated democrats and giving the money and trying to get them to buy at love in syria. they do not have a grass-roots military population in syria that is following them. they want our money before they will name a government. we just try to get the name -- they said, we will not do it in less you give us the money. we do not have a grass-roots organization. america said, we are not giving you the money until you succeed. we got into this argument with them. i said, we will not do it unless you get the money because we will not succeed without the money. that is where obama was left. do you want to try to pick them as the winners? they have no proof they will be able to win. >> thanks, josh. we are going to continue our debate before we open it up to
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discussions. , why don't you take two minutes and respond to what josh said. some of the problems that we have right now and -- in identifying who we would aid as the opposition, despite the test efforts of the international community not having it back together? >> nobody has their act together before they get support. if you look at the force in any country, they are always a mess until somebody starts helping them. it is absolutely true, we have less chance of finding the kind of people we want and strengthening them then we did six months ago. we had a better chance six months before that. we will have less good chance six months from now. as long as we keep debating, this will be a self fulfilling prophecy. you mentioned we should not topple assad and destabilize syria. the outcome is eventually a topple assad and eight destabilize syria -- [applause]another thousand dead,
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another half-million refugees, and then the precise outcome that you do no one anything to lead us to. what is the policy when assad, who refuses to go down without fighting, uses the chemical weapons in his arsenal? what is the reaction then? we have all the same problems you are talking about. one last thing, there is actually a history that precedes 2003 and 2001 in america. there were some very dubious interventions the united states got into in the 1990's. not getting in the middle of ethnic groups -- have of not adding in the middle of the ethnic groups in bosnia. we could've had that exact debate. the equivalent of that would have said you cannot possibly bring a better outcome in bosnia given the war that has been going on for centuries in that country. yet, we did.
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we bonded to the point we were able to stop the war. we have the accordance. i think better off in the balkans than they were then? yes they are. it is not only a record of unmitigated failure we can look upon. we have a mixed record in foreign-policy. we have successes and we have failures. finally, as obama being the great extricate towaror. we have a history to. herbert hoover was one, and for the first years of his presidency, fdr was one. >> thank you. [applause]rex aaron, why don't you respond to that, specifically the point that whatever the u.s. said that both bob and leon talked about, whatever the u.s. has been afraid of happening in syria is happening right now. continued deaths, increase friday july station -- increased
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radicalization. we should act to prevent hundred of thousands of deaths -- we are moving up to 100,000 deaths in the syria. as the president said in his recent argument, that the u.s. is not intervening because of interest or limitations. what about the moral imperative that the president acted on in libya? >> libya and syria provides fundamentally different examples. let's be clear. it is in the resume of the great power to behave. in hypocritical fashion. that is how great powers behave because they have the luxury of being able to be that way. in libya, the president acted because it was a different moment in the so-called arab spring. he acted because he had a un -- un security council --
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>> he said, we are doing this because this is what we do. >> fine. we also have accommodated ourselves. repressed shiite and sunni -- what consistency is there? is when we act consistently and create doctrines for ourselves that our straitjacket that end up getting ourselves into incredible trouble. two additional points. i refuse any longer -- our determination of what hollywood concedes on everyone else in the world is fundamentally mistaken. we have non-predatory neighbors to our north and south and fish to our east and west. we are an extraordinarily fortunate people. we do not understand what it is like to live on the knife's
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edge. we do not have a dark history. we do not live in a dangerous neighborhood. as a consequence, we believe that we understand these ethnic conflicts and can somehow fix them. i am not against buffering neighboring states, international 10 cups to raise money, and contingency plans on chemical weaponry, a debate among us between us is them to one narrow point. do you believe that we can provide enough to let terri assistance -- military assistance of sufficient quantity and character that would somehow change the ark of the crisis? you may fight, we have to drive. how would we know? bill clinton telling us at the second briefing before he went to camp david, trying and failing is better than not trying at all. i remember how inspired i was by that. that is an appropriate slogan for a college or high school
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football team. it is not a substitute for the most consequential power on earth. we get ourselves into trouble when we commit two since. one, the sin of on the contents. we think we can do everything. two, the transgression of omniscience. the debate between us has to do with the provision of military assistance and construction of a new fly zone. that is the debate here. let's not moralize this or turn it into a morality play. that is the question. i would argue that history, since you both invoked it, in the last decade, is on my side. you have to tell me why you think -- >> let's pick up on that point. reminder, we are tweaking it all. tweaking this very lively
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debate at #midebatesyria. are there any other syrian americans or syrian residents of the house? a we the you break it you bought it. do we get stuck policing a fight that is not ours and that we historically have proven, in recent -- as bob points out, there have been decade-long experiments of decade -- u.s. involvement, we are not very good at policing. does that turn the conflict in syria from deering in the situation with syria to once again being about the and i did they and its role in the region? >> a few things. first, what happened in syria was that a democratic rebellion
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was transformed into a in ethnic civil war. the strategy was to see to it that a democratic rebellion would be translated by force of circumstance into an ethnic and sectarian civil war. in so far as we and the west proposed no serious impediments to that strategy, that was one factor that enabled that strategies to succeed. the fall of a dictator is obviously not the same thing as the birth of a democracy. anyone who knows anything about the birth of democracy in the west, which was also not a pretty and fast process, this. democratization is not an event. it is an era. it is an era. we have to understand that if you believe, as some people here may not, that the furtherance of democracy is not only morally edifying to americans in the world, but is actually in the
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strategic interest of the united dates. if you believe that, then you have to understand what kind of commitment you make. you do not make a commitment of 200,000 troops. you do not bring democracy at the end of a rifle. you do not force people to be democratic. you do not believe that you are omnipotent or omission. -- omniscient. people in those countries who are beginning a log struggle -- long struggle. the jihad is since. seem to be gaining the upper hand. why do you think that is? both sides were evenly armed but they fire more skillfully? it is it because one is wiser than the other? there was an asymmetry of force, and imbalance of power in that -- a strategy was permitted to
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work. democratization is essentially an exercise-induced glaciation. you are exchanging one political culture with another political culture. we have to keep our heads. if we believe that the emergence of democracies in the world is in our interest, if we believe that fewer dictators there are, fewer ethnic dictators there are, is in our interest, then we have to develop long-term, mature commitments to helping opposition slowly march towards that goal. respond why don't you to that specifically? knowing how much you know -- we have often talked about people with the guns being the one running this at the end. how do you make -- >> he is going to drug you with
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america's religion, democracy. every american loves democracy. i grant that. i plead guilty to taking that drug. i am right there with you. there is much more going on here. anybody who knows the middle east understands that the borders were drawn around peoples who do not want to live together. we have seen this in israel. palestinians and jews do not want to live together. we could say, let's have democracy. jews do not want a one state solution. neither the palestinians. it is not about democracy in palestine israel. we said we are going to make democracy in iraq. they pushed the sunnis out of every job in the military, government, education system. that is what is going to happen. anybody who thinks that when the
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sunnis takeover in syria that they are going to incorporate the national institutions are full and themselves. those institutions have been jammed full of the minorities who have had their foot on the throat of the sunnis for the last 50 years. the aloe-ites who dominate the military structure and tons of other ministries and fill them up with minorities and sunnis who are sympathetic to them. all of those people will be cleansed from every one of those institutions. they are disloyal. the new revolutionaries would put their people who are starving and hurt from this revolution and paid an incredible price to get rid of the oppressive government. you will end up with a new set of dictators. that is the unfortunate truth. america can get themselves into the middle of this. i do not think we have is to teach interest. today, sunnis and shiites are fighting over control of the middle east. america is trying to balance iran versus saudi arabia to a
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certain degree. syria is in the middle of that struggle. unfortunately, it is getting stomped under foot ideas two big elephants. we are doing a lot to hurt iran. it is america's national interest to hurt iran is much as we can and help israel. we could hurt them. we have got them under the worst sanctions that anybody has ever placed. we are impoverishing irani and very quickly. we do not want them to be a failed state. we want them to be just about that. we do not want them to lose the saudi's. we are fighting this out is as well. we are balancing. we will balance in syria at the end of the day. thinking that we are going to -- that is what america is going to end up doing. make sure that neither side wins in syria. that is what we are doing today.
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i hate to say that. the fact of the matter is, we are not helping the opposition. we are helping the islamists. we do not like assad. we are happy to see him hurt. this is driving syria into the dumps. that is our national interest, unfortunately. >> i did not understand what you said. you are for this, right? where american policy is now. right? you approve of policy, such as it is. >> you know, i do not think we can adjudicate who get sucked into a situation we cannot control. the objective outcome is that we are fighting the islamists on the one hand, which are clearly growing in power across the middle east, and that is what the arab spring is about to a certain degree, bringing the islamists into the center of power -- >> you are encouraging an outcome that you are -- >> let me bring bob in about
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this whole idea. as part of a problem that the u.s. has no policy for addressing the arab spring? talk a little bit about if the us bank is afraid of continuing -- u.s. is afraid of -- if there is a chance to help reshape the region? is this a failed experiment that we will continue to get bogged down in. >> i don't know if i am going to answer that question. i am more interested, if i can -- yes, we do not have a policy toward the middle east that it think is coherent. i do not consider the rise of the muslim brotherhood to mark the death of democracy in egypt. it depends how they behave. our policy, i agree with the ministration in this respect,
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has been to treat egypt and the elected government of egypt as the elected government of egypt. let me say something about democracy. we have to be clear about who is suffering from the sin of omniscience. you seem to know who is capable of democracy and who is not. we have been hearing about this for decades. tell it to the indians, what per capita income you have to have in order to be able to have a democracy. i have been hearing for decades that asians, for a variety of reasons, or not capable of democracy. catholic the countries, not capable of democracies. the last group of people not capable are living in the middle east. i am not prepared to make that judgment. i am prepared to give it a shot. if you had looked at germany as a result of its history going back 70 years, in 1945, you would not have said that germany was an obvious choice to be a democracy. yet, we were able to do
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something that was constructive. a lot of the things that we now take for granted that we did in the world, at the time seemed impossible, and we were told it was impossible, -- are we going to get a perfect outcome in syria? absolutely not. far from perfect. the question we keep asking you is, what is the outcome that we get when we do nothing? is that an outcome that we are going to be able to tolerate question mark the united states has been a very foolish country many times. one way in which it hold itself system i, we believe that we can tolerate something that we find we cannot tolerate. we said at one point in the balkans, we do not have a dog in a fight, we do not care how many people get killed, it is not in interest of ours. guess what? we do not always stay out. we have a hard time staying out.
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i predict that we will pursue exactly the policy that you both recommend and we will wind up being dragged into syria in the worst possible circumstances. >> what is the red line that draws us in? >> the use of chemical weapons will be the area. i know people in the government do not believe this, i wish i could say that it would be 100,000 or 200,000 deaths, but i believe this president will tolerate hundreds of thousands of deaths in syria. the use of chemical weapons will be the red line. i believe that anyone who thinks that assad will go down without using every weapon in his arsenal, that seems to be a fools errand. >> i have a pointed question on this, aaron. you have said there is not enough that the international community could force. what is the red line here? a number of deaths, or a chemical weapon?
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a have to say, there have been numerous attacks on homes and other areas with something very short of chemical weapons. is the u.s. willing to get more robustly involved allowing us to -- decide to walk up to the red line and is confident that we want to anything? >> that may be true. if the president of the united states determined that as a matter of national interest, to overturn the regime is what we needed to do, then he would sit down and craft a sensible military strategy to achieve that end. he would calibrate his ends with his means. i argue that is not a vital national interest, given the complications and consequences. a policy that would mandate a degree of responsibility that i do not think we can afford
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right now. with all due respect, i do believe there is some correlation between military ventures abroad that do not turn out right, and the nature of our own broken house. which is fundamentally broken. all i am suggesting, and i do not -- i do not know whether josh intended this, i do not believe that the arab and muslim peoples are incapable of democracy. it took us 150 years to reconcile the promise of the declaration of independence with the validation of slavery contained in our own constitution. we are still not there yet. on the issue of democracy, 22 countries since 1950 have maintained their democratic character continuously. the turks and the indians are not on the list. it is a very small club. they are not born on the back of somebody's tank or missile
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battery. in my judgment. if democracy is what we should be doing, then you should argue for consistency across the board in our policy. not just in syria. the bell may toll for the kings, two. i argue that is not a wise policy for us to pursue. we do not want an arab spring in saudi arabia. we don't. for many different reasons. finally, i am not sure, i returned to the basic point -- should we supply a quality and character of military aid to ex- opposition group in an effort to change fundamentally, otherwise why do it? why do a half measure? if it doesn't work, it just accentuates the problem, you
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have the wrong hands problem where some of these weapons will go. you want to do this, then do it right. stop messing around with half measures. you think democracy is so important in syria? you think that the overthrow it of assad is of national interest? give me a strategy that allows the united states to succeed. do not fool around with half measures. maybe a no-fly zone with the turks. maybe we will that this through -- group -- that this group -- vet this group. in two years of watching this debate, nobody has done it. how come? i want to know how come. if this is so important, give me a real strategy. the strategy that senator mccain might well propose.
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to actually accomplish american objectives. the truth is, i cannot do it, and you cannot do it. there are too many uncertainties. there are too many unknowns. we have other priorities. governing is about choosing. fdr said lincoln died a sad man. because he couldn't have everything. we are not going to overthrow the assad regime, i don't think. if we can do that, tell me what we should do. >> asking me to repeat what i already said. i am happy to do. >> we open it up to the audience. we have a syrian american woman right here at the microphone. please direct your question to one of the team. then we will give the other time, each team will have three minutes to address this question. >> thank you. local coordination committee in syria.
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i don't really have questions. i have comments. starting with joshua, there you go again. i represent the largest network of activist in syria. we are a secular, democratic organization. none of us are harvard educated. i want to say that this is -- >> we are going to switch out mike'mics. >> this revolution started for dignity, democracy, and freedom, as you know. you in particular also know that peaceful protests continue to take is throughout the country every week. not one of you has addressed the fact that the assad regime has been bombarding bread lines in targeting civilians. and syrians inside syria know that this is genocide. the specific targeting of children makes it a genocide. to call it an ethnic or
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sectarian war when you rightly pointed out that this is the assad regime's strategy is really an insult to the more than 65,000 people who are dead. let me correct the record, it is more than 3 million people internally displaced, and 16 million people on verge of destitution. thank you. [applause]>> thank you. >> i admire the work you have done. this revolution started out with many people like you demanding a better life in syria. it has moved into a sectarian war. we don't know how it is going to end. this is the problem. we brought up this model of yugoslavia. america did nothing about yugoslavia for years while terrible ethnic fighting one on. it was only after the different
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populations of yugoslavia had run to their own enclaves and america divided up the country. i know you would not want your country divided up. you want a government that is democratic, where everybody gets along and there is equal representation. it is a beautiful dream. in a syria today, are they going to be able to live together? are the militias by conquer the territories going to be gentle with them and invite them in -- or are they going to run? there may be ethnic cleansing, we do not know what the outcome is going to be. for america to try -- i can see where it is in serious interest to have this done. it is not america's interest to get in the middle.
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>> leon, why don't you respond to that. >> other powers are already in the middle. putin is already in the middle. iran is already in the middle. the idea that american support for the opposition would suddenly introduce outside intervention of some kind in a conflict that has been magically laid on a level playing field -- it is crazy. the bad guys, whether that is assad or the g hottest -- jihadists, they get their weapons. they are doing fine. all that is asked is that the fight be fair, that it is recognized to be a legitimate fight, that this is not going to be a fight that will end immediately, and that the outcome of this fight in this place -- my 10-year-old son could tell you looking at the region that american interest are in some way affected by what happens in this place.
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the idea that all of this is not obvious makes no sense to me. it makes no sense. it does not describe the reality that i see, not in a scholarly well. -- way. not in a neocon way either. there is a struggle taking place. that is what is happening. one side of the struggle needs our help, deserves our help for moral and strategic reasons and is not getting our help. all the other side of the struggle, which contravenes everything we believe in and every interest that we have in the region is getting help from a full variety of outside powers. >> what is the opinion of syrians back home or that you speak to, in terms of the level of american sport right now? >> he syrians i speak to on a
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daily basis will paint a different picture from a joshua is presenting. a struggle for democracy and dignity and freedom. what they are seeing is eight u.s. policy that says we are going to do nothing until there is nothing left to do. syrians inside will say, we have asked you for defensive weapons. you have refused. we have asked you for a no-fly zone to ground those fighter jets that bomb bakeries. you have refused. we have no one to turn to but god. that is where the radicalization stems from. and you have nothing, you will turn to god. i can't blame them. if i were watching my children get sniped, i would turn to god as well. >> what you think of that? >> how can you argue against that? it is a compelling -- >> turn to god? or turn to someone who is
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launching jihad in the name of god? >> we sanctioned -- which was greeted with great consequence in washington, but in syria was viewed as a horrible thing. the islamists in the attack on the airbase -- it is the islamist fighters who prevail. not the syrian military. >> because they are not getting help from the rest of the international community? >> credited with over 600 suicide bombings -- i do not know the answer. it is hard for me. i am not sitting in moral judgment, nor am i immune to the terrible traumas and suffering. i am looking for a rational, american strategy. that can help, if we do provide a consistent level of lethal support to opposition group x.
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is it enough to change the ark of the military struggle? or will he have to do more? this is the problem that i really have. in the end, it is about ownership. for obvious reasons, the pentagon have made their own case to the president. with the new resource problem home -- problem in mali. look what it took to support french forces against al qaeda subcontractors. if we can't do that, when americans are held hostage and killed, what kind of response do you really expect for -- >> is that a consequence of the u.s. not getting involved in
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mali earlier? >> what is the implication from that? that we need to be involved -- >> we were concerned about molly for at least eight months. only now there is discussion about what we should -- >> have another discussion on benghazi for the thousandth time. >> we are in the in danger -- in no danger of intervening too much. that is not what we have to worry about. >> let's move on. if you have a question, raise your hands and identify yourself. keep your questions short. let's go to -- then this woman right here in the black. >> as joshua said, syria is part of a broader middle east.
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what would be the position of the u.s. when lebanon, jordan, maybe israel and the whole region would be unstable? should the u.s. then act or be more active when everything is out of hand? >> i think the whole region is unstable. we are trying to reduce that. that is why we need to spend more money in helping jordan, helping the lebanese, trying to help with the refugees. all of these countries are sagging under the weight of the expense of refugees. the outside world has spent almost nothing on them. we have abandoned them to jordan, turkey, and lebanon. we should do a lot more to help bolster those regimes so they do
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not collapse under the same kind of thing that is going on in syria. how will syria end up looking? i do not think we should be trying to adjudicate that. if we just -- jumped in on the side of the opposition, we would end up having to fight all the islamic militias that are doing the heavy lifting. we would be trying to help the secular's. we would drive civil war within the population. the syrians will find a way to get along. i think most of the secular's and the light islamists will be able to get along with these al qaeda people in the same way that the muslim brotherhood gets along with the others in egypt. if america were in the middle, we would be seeing these longer did people and send drones to go shoot them all. >> it is a good question, are we going to get dragged into this at some point? the longer we wait, is the price just going to be higher? >> i think they can sort it out amongst themselves. i do not think that america can
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pick which are the better islamists. that is what we will do. >> how do you know that? how do you know they can sort it out among themselves when we have seen for two years the most atrocious crimes he committed. increasing radicalization. it is a nightmare. >> you would divided up like yugoslavia? >> if we can prevent the jihad from coming to power -- that seems to justify supporting the opposition. with no boots on the ground. [applause]>> i do not understand. by the pentagon standards, you are talking about 70,000 american forces to secure 350 metric tons of chemicals.
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probably decentralized in 50 or 60 different locations. what exactly do you mean? i would go even -- i will give you a concession. six months, try to supply -- fine with me. not that it matters. vet a number of opposition groups and start a military assistance effort. go ahead. >> that is what i am talking about. then we will talk -- >> if you were commanding us in the beginning of world war ii, you would've said let's quit. >> all right, we will take one more question. right here. [everyone talking] >> thank you, gentlemen.
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i work with the public international law and policy group. my question is mostly directed to team yes. that is how i am conceptualizing bob and leon. what you are proposing is military assistance from the united states in the form of probably money and weaponry, but also a no-fly zone. i am wondering how do you recommend that the united states take the lead in doing that, with a stalemate on the security council, are you thinking balkans model with nato? and then, related to that, none of you have discussed any alternatives to the military option. obviously, nobody is saying boots on the ground. it is unclear whether that assistance program will be enough to change the tide in syria. more might be required. is there any viable option that the united states could put more pressure on to a negotiated agreement? right now, the opposition is
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refusing to negotiate because their bottom line is that assad has to go. if there were in his own -- negotiated transition, there is no way that bashar would win. there is no way he would get amnesty for his crimes. in the end, does it really matter? is this a viable option to go forward? >> this is how we will do it. we will ask team yes to make some comments. we will get either josh or air in a quick response. then i will ask each one of you on what you think specifically the u.s. should be doing in syria today. >> i regard obama's insistence upon remaining within the un framework as the alibi, the street is that -- these strategic alibi for doing nothing. he knows that russia and china will not come aboard and stays within the system, stasis is
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the policy. this is a way of rating things. -- rigging things. if we come to a determination that the objectives that i listed before our worthy and necessary objectives, so that you have justified and and you discover that the un is precisely the antithesis of any meaningful means to accomplish this, it is pretty clear that staying within the united nations framework is a formula for doing nothing. putin has been given a veto over our foreman -- foreign policy. it unburdened the administration of the challenge of to face this problem directly. this has been going on for 22 months. if putin is not going to relent, we know about him. he believes in the heavy footprint. not a light footprint. i do is, that it was long ago time to go outside the un and the united states should find its allies.
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we will find such allies and we two a compost those objectives. >> are we hiding behind putin's skirts to avoid u.s. action? >> putin would love that phrase. [laughter] >> i don't think so. the reality is, it is fear of the uncertainty with respect to the end state that has constrained administration that is creating a policy of risk aversion. i would argue that is cautious and deliberate rather than risk readiness. that is in this situation a difficult thing to think through. i come back to the proposition. it is not even a question of changing my view. i would argue that if you believe you can significantly
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change the art of the military struggle inside syria with limited military assistance and weaponry, to the right groups, give it a whirl. see if it actually works. you didn't change my mind on this. i just do not believe that that kind of military assistance will have the kind of impact. on the risk reward continuum, i think it is not that we are going to be drawn into syria on the ground. we won't be. we will not be. i do not believe iraq and afghanistan is the right president here. i am not sure, given my own views about this region, our conundrum is that we are stuck in a region that we are going to have an excruciatingly painful time trying to shape. yet we cannot leave.
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that is the conundrum of the greatest power on earth. this is not bosnia. it really isn't bosnia. we have millions of dollars invested in egypt. egypt today, i know this was important to you and you are one of the few who argued early on for a more proactive policy when it came to democratic reform. egypt today is in the hands of the two most anti-democratic forces in the country. with all of our military assistance and a 40 year relationship with this country, we cannot mckinley change the ark -- significantly change the ark of what happened. you two want to believe -- egypt is the most important largest and most influential arab state. so as goes egypt, so goes the
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rest of the region. this was the most hopeful manifestation of this phenomenon. if we cannot do that, in a country with which we are where allied for 40 years, i just do not get it. i do not understand what you're suggesting. >> what we are going to do, i will ask each of our speakers to, in five sentences or less -- [laughter]i will cut you off. closing remarks. a prescription of what we should be doing in syria. >> i am repeating myself. i think that in order to prevent the jihadists from taking power, prevent assad from using chemical weapons, and start -- stop what is genocide from taking place and in order to assist the forces whom we can support who exist, we did not invent them, in order to
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accomplish these objectives, i would arm the secular opposition. i would do everything we possibly can to make the council more effective, more sophisticated. they have to be able to show that they have got to deliver some into syria. i would arm them. i would help the council. i would provide a safe haven. i would continue to make the promotion of democracy or its secularization or progress call it whatever you want. whatever the long-term outcome that we desire, i would begin to devise a long-term historical strategy that allows us to stable the struggle. not do it in this manic depressive way that we always do. >> bob, finish up the argument? >> i do think we have spelled out -- the fact is, aaron and i are at the end of this debate in complete agreement. over the next six months.
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we should provide more effective ella terry assistance to the opposition group. we should use our capacities in turkey to put together a no-fly zone. for which we will have a lot of support from france and many nato countries as well as arab countries. yes, let's see what happens. that is the way things work. we do not have a way of knowing what happens if you press one button. we will see what happens. demand by saying, -- let me end by saying, let's not make a record of futility by making assumptions based on past futility. some of us did press the administration to get mubarak to conduct reforms which might have allowed a smooth transition to democracy. they did not do it. this is the outcome we are getting. that is not an argument for never doing anything because we never can do anything. it is an argument for doing
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what you can do in time. >> thanks, bob. josh. >> america needs to do a lot more. i do not think we can solve or save syria. the entire region is going through a tremendous revolution and change. america finding itself on the sidelines. we are on the sidelines in egypt, tunisia, libya. we cannot pick who is going to be the winner. we can be there with help, with aid, should be there more. we could help with education and the things that america does best. to try and trick the metal is as if we can pick the winners and put them at the top, -- middle east as if we can pick the winners and put them at the top will be a disservice of america. we will not get the people we want on top. that is what we are seeing today. people that have not been close to america. they will find a way to build it that her society for themselves.
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america cannot choose george washington for somebody else. the syrians will have to find their own george washington. that will come out of this maelstrom of national revolution. they will find their leader that will lead them towards a better future and hopefully a democratic future. >> five sentences. >> i am not sure how to conclude. for the last 20 years, we have been not succeeding in warmaking or peacemaking in this region. the frame of reference is that -- i am not going back in time. america has had consequential foreign policy moment, and we have been quite effective. the general is sitting right here, he will not disagree with me. it last effective foreign- policy in this country was bush 41 and jim baker. the relation made sense.
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they did not overreach. ideology was important, but they steered clear of straitjacketed ideologies. i work for the last three administrations. i do not have the level of confidence, and i have worked for half a dozen secretaries of state, i do not know whether we are up to managing what it is you are suggesting. i will concede to you. but for the neighboring states. try to create a transitional government that we can recognize was a syrian prime minister. do much more on the humanitarian side. plan for chemical communities. reluctantly -- contingencies. reluctantly think about what we can do, without getting ourselves immersed in syria, test your proposition. test it. at the end of the day, this arab
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spring or what ever it is, is authentic and legitimate because the arabs for the first time in the modern. actually own their own politics. we are not a pol -- part of that. that timmy is hopeful. it is going to take time. if we can facilitate it, fine. i do not want to see the night states fail again. >> -- united states fail again. >> we will leave it there. [applause]excellent discussion. thanks to our panelists. clearly there is a lot more, this debate is not over. not only the question today, should the u.s. save syria? but can it? i am not sure that we answer that. we look forward to continuing the discussion. thank you senator mccain and the mccain institute.
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>> next, live your calls and comments on "washington journal." and then newsmakers with senator grassley. after that, president obama on immigration. ,> john mccain's 2000 campaign when he ran for president, is the most memorable campaign. of any that i have ever covered or been around. we will never see it again. here he was, facing george w. bush who had all the face cards of the republican party backing him. the three republican governors in new hampshire and all the money. john mccain won out and held 114 town meetings.
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he stayed there until every question was answered. you could see the people, the light bulb going on. when will we the patient's bill of rights? the mccain would say, we are not going to get that, as long as my party is owned by the insurance companies, any democrat democrat is owned by the trial lawyers. it was refreshing candor. you could see it in people's responses. he was totally open to the press. it was a candor and openness. i welcome this. nobody had seen this before. nobody has seen it since. psychological analyst mark shields on his career in politics and the washington press corps. tonight at 8:00 p.m. on c-span's q&a. >> is morning, mark ginsberg discusses the situation in syria. and how president obama's policy team might face them. team might face them.

Washington This Week
CSPAN February 3, 2013 6:00am-7:00am EST


TOPIC FREQUENCY U.s. 13, Egypt 9, United States 7, Un 5, Washington 5, Iraq 5, Obama 4, Bosnia 4, Yugoslavia 4, Libya 4, Mccain 3, Iran 3, Aaron 3, Israel 3, Lebanon 3, Turkey 3, Bob 2, John Mccain 2, Mali 2, Nato 2
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